Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ma'am, Your Corset's On Upside Down

After last weekend's gala, I was such a happy little clam: what a fun time we'd had! Carefree and silly with about a thousand other people, all being carefree and silly together, all for a good cause.

Then I saw the pictures. In particular, I saw this. Blue arrows mark the spots.

Ginormous wrinkle on the bodice above the chest, especially on one side. What is going on, I thought? Almost equally enormous wrinkles elsewhere. The costumer's nightmare, a very ill fit. And me with a big fat goofy smile oblivious to the damning evidence below. This same thing happened the first time I wore the dress. Really, two times? And me not notice?

Last night, falling asleep, the thought occurred to me: what if your fitting skills aren't going to the dogs after all? What if?

So this evening, I tried it on, "it" being my Kay Gnagey corset. A very nice corset, well made, and which used to be well fitting. What was going on? It fit horribly! There was this big point above my chest, and the bust gussets...

Wait a minute.

I took the thing off. Looked at it. Turned it the other side round, and tried it one again.

Well, I'll be. It's true. I had worn the...corset.........upside.............down. Twice.

What a fabulous hoot! I'd walked around last fall, and last Saturday evening, with my main under-thingy wrong-side up.

What gave it away? The fact that there are no big floppy bust gussets in a Victorian corset. I've gotten so used to looking at floppy gathered bust gussets in Regency wear that, well....

And besides, I only dress up a few times a year! In fact, only once last year. So...

Am much more focused on research and translations and decoding long-decayed skills than actually wearing the things I make...

Yeah, okay, no excuses really work here, do they?

Fact is, I'm a silly dork, and you can all laugh long and hard.

I have

Just to prove that I can sort of fit bodices (sleeves still need work: sleeve heads are too big and should ease into the armscye and not need gathers, as I had to do), here's what the bodice looks like with the under-thingie worn upside-up, as my son calls it.

See, there's supposed to be a little give at the shoulder, but not much. A few little wrinkles are normal when one moves. Also, if I hook-and-eye the bodice to the skirt, the weight of the latter will pull the bodice even smoother. Finally, if I ever get around to boning the bodice like it's supposed to be, and adding a bust improver near the armscye, it will look better still. Pppfff. 

Hey, even a little tight across the back. That's more like it.

Oh, look, there's a bug on the ceiling.

By the way, the collar is a collarette, a removable piece of decor to brighten up a dress, and change out as needed. They went by myriad names in the early 1870s. At some point I'll show you some fashion plates of originals, including the German one from which the design of this one derives.


And now to bed, where I can rest easy tonight.



Laura Morrigan said...

Oh dear! I am often wearing my corset top upside down, although it is only a cheap plastic boned one not a nice proper one! the dress looks amazing nevertheless! I cannot wait to (hopefully) one day be that good at making clothes!

Please do tell us more about the collarettes, I like the idea and might make one or two myself! How does one attach them?

lahbluebonnet said...

Yes, in the last few weeks I had the same trouble for the same reason. Except one thing that helps is that I can't get the busk to hook closed when the corset is upside down. I was going nuts trying to figure out why I couldn't close the busk at all. It took a while for me to figure it out.

Isis said...

I'm sorry, I had to giggle a little. :) But that is so easy to do! A friend of mine had had a pair of back and frontlaced stays sewn for her. They were just plain wrong. She showed me, and I agreed it lookd odd.

She phoned me the next day and told me that she has put them on backwards... :)

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

Very Madonna-esque! ;-)

Green Martha said...

Thank you for the laugh !
And you totally deserve a hug for making a removable collar, they are *so* underrpresented in period costuming ! Thank you, you made my day !

Jenni said...

Oh, Natalie, you are soooo funny! That's why it wouldn't lace properly!!! DID look lovely last Staturday, and with all of the compliments that you received, no one knew you had your corset on upside down...really.

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Try adding a bit of ribbon or lace to only the top. I had to do that to mine for the same reason!

Scene in the Past said...

Oh, no! That is TOO funny, but really all too easy to do! Kay used to sew a length of lace to the top edge of the corset to help people know which is up and which is down. Maybe you can do that to yours to make sure it doesn't happen again! :)

ZipZip said...

:} Glad the situation was good for a laugh for you all, too.

Yep, a tad of lace up top is in order, or I'm likely to repeat the error some other year.

Now, about collarettes, aka fichu-collars, or with tails, fichus: sure, I'll be happy to do a post on them. I think they're fascinating and useful creatures.

Very best,


Kleidung um 1800 said...

Oh dear, I've been absent from internet access the past few days and almost missed this post!
Sooo funny and I'm convinced this is very much another reason why I prefer Regency ;)
On the other hand these are the stories to remember and share when meeting other costumers :)

ZipZip said...

Dear Sabine,

Yes, you're right: definitely a story to keep :}

Very best,


A Country Victorian said...

Well, at least you didn't sew parts of your corset in upside down! :) I'll admit, I had to chuckle at your post. I added a tiny bit of lace on the top edge just to avoid that. So far I've been successful. :)


ZipZip said...

Dear A Country Victorian,
Thank you! I still giggle, too. Not one of my brighter moments, but if it provides humor, you know, it's worth it. Good idea about that lace...

Very best,